Long Beach: 300 Gather to Mourn the Death of Heather Heyer and to Show Solidarity with the Victims in Charlottesville, Virginia

15 Aug

The crowd at Harvey Milk Plaza in Long Beach, on Sunday, Aug. 13, to mourn the death of Heather Heyer to show their solidarity with the injured victims; photo by Barry Saks

About 300 people held a flashlight vigil, on Sunday evening, on Aug. 13, at Harvey Milk Plaza in Long Beach, California at 185 E. Third St. to mourn the death of Heather Heyer and to show their solidarity for the injured protesters against the white-nationalist Unite the Right Rally the day before in Charlottesville, Virginia when a car plowed into the protesters.

The vigil was organized by Michelle Connolly and Ashley Moulder, leaders from Indivisible Connected Long Beach, whose About Facebook page characterized itself as “(l)eading the resistance in Long Beach” and “(w)e are the joint forces of the local groups in order to resist the Trump & GOP.”

Connolly said, “We stand against this grotesque act of white terrorism, anti-Semitism and homophobia with outrage and sadness.  White people, I must address you, our work is just beginning and we must be made accountable.  This is our history….Being taught to not see color…has blinded us from the growing evils of institutional and systemic racism.”

Naida Tushnet, from the Long Beach Area Peace Network, told the crowd that Black Lives Matter taught her to say the names of the dead.  She ended her brief remarks by echoing Joe Hill.  Tushnet said, “Don’t mourn for me, organize.”

Kevin Joerger, 25, from the Long Beach chapter of the Democratic Socialist of America, reminded the crowd besides the death of Heyer, injured were members of the DSA, the International Socialist Organization, the Industrial Workers of the World and Antifa, an anti-Fascist group in the United States.

Other speakers from other organizations who spoke to show their solidarity were Together We Will, the Unitarian Church of Long Beach and the National Council of Jewish Women in Long Beach.

Former Long Beach Community College District Trustee Mark Bowen, 42, was in the crowd.  Bowen, who lives in Long Beach and teaches history in the Los Angeles Unified School District, said, “I am here because this is a very horrible time for our country with what’s happened in Charlottesville.  The hate has been ratcheted up to a level that is completely unacceptable and I lay it directly at the feet of our president and the hate he has been spewing for a couple of years.”  He added he’s proud of his veteran grandfather, who stormed the beach at Normandy against the Nazis and that he is disturbed Nazis are trying to empower themselves here in the United States.


Kenneth Unger, on Sunday, Aug. 13, in the crowd listening to the speakers at Harvey Milk Plaza; photo by Barry Saks

Kenneth Unger, a San Pedro resident, was in the crowd.  Hunger, 74, who identified himself as an Ashkenazi Jew, said, “I think it is very important to show solidarity with the protesters in Charlottesville…protesting the Fascist…neo-Nazi movement.”  A little later, he added, “Part of my family was lost in the Holocaust and that must never, ever happen again.”

Heyer, 32, worked as a paralegal.  According to the New York Times, Heyer’s “friends described her as a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised who was often moved to tears by the world’s injustices.”

According to the Washington Post, the driver of the car was James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, and whose former teacher of Fields had said Fields “espoused Nazi ideals in high school.”

Reuters reported on Sunday, Aug. 13, that the White House said President Donald Trump’s remarks condemning violence “at a white nationalist rally were meant to include the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups.”

For the New York Times video of the events on Saturday, Aug. 12, in Charlottesville, Virginia, click here.

Barry Saks is a socialist, an Ashkenazi Jew and an atheist.


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